Sunday, March 30, 2008

Top 12 Fairfax County Online Advertising Destination Websites

Following up on our quarterly Loudoun Online Advertising reviews, here's a top 12 listing of Fairfax Internet Marketing online local community destinations for business advertising dollars.

Advertising your Fairfax County business online, on the Internet, includes several categories of spending that attracts different kinds of consumers. Fairfax County Internet Marketing effort and dollars should certainly be spent on localized global search directories (i.e. Google Maps/MSN Live), localized national directories (like DMOZ, Superpages, Resourcelinks and Yellowpages), localized national review and social media directories (like Facebook, Discoverourtown,, Yelp and Delicious) and industry-specific sites offering advertising. This review doesn't cover those resources, nor does it include government-sponsored or business-only sites like or the various area chambers of commerce.

Note that as Northern Virginia Internet Marketing specialists, KME Internet Marketing maintains a comprehensive directory of all the relevant online advertising services, social media and content sources, and seach engine focused tools and websites on the Internet successfully catering to those searching for businesses and information in this area, though all options aren't necessarily appropriate for all advertisers. Contact us if you'd like to discuss all the options.

A very effective way of quickly and reliably getting your message in front of a very targeted group of Fairfax County residents, including those in Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, Mclean Reston, Herndon, Burke and Centreville, is to advertise on the general, local community news and information directories, that exclusively cater to residents and businesses of the area. Most are very reasonable, tend to show up well in search listings, and drive many opportunities for cross-selling (i.e. someone finding information for neighborhoods finds real estate, home improvement or gardening supply ads).

Here's our initial take on this top 12 list of Fairfax Internet Marketing community directory sites, to be refined and updated next quarter. They're ranked according to our professional Northern Virginia Internet Marketing and SEO/SEM opinion regarding their effectiveness, exposure, page ranking and overall value in terms of local or regional businesses reaching out and attracting broad demographics among residential and business consumers. We don't include pure landing pages, SPAM sites or link farms. Note that Fairfax, with such diverse population centers and large communities, has very different online focus between the different communities, and very active sub-regional site specifically for areas like the cities or communities of McLean, Falls Church, Arlington, Herndon/Reston and Alexandria. Our list includes the broadest possible exposure for the whole of Fairfax County and close-in DC Metro regional locations in Loudoun and Prince William Counties.

A note about the Washingtonpost - while offering great online advertising focused to regions around DC, we don't agree with its policy that you must register to view the online site, and so it's not included here - its site doesn't require this, and its soon-to-launch site likely won't either.

1 - - great advertising opportunities on a well-built online platform, PR=5

2 - - although focused on Arlington, a really good site with high PR=5

3 - - effective online newspaper in several areas of Fairfax (including the "South County" area), PR=4

4 - - part of the "AreaGuides" network of regional sites, decent advertising opportunities and local exposure, PR=4

5 - sites - another network of county-specific and area sites, pretty good search engine exposure and number of listings, PR=4

6 - - covering the whole western Fairfax, plus western Prince William and Loudoun county areas, great SEO and Internet Marketing exposure, plus reasonable advertising rates; PR=4

7 - - Falls Church News Press Online - decent, busy site focused on Falls Church with lots of front-page advertising slots, PR=4

8 - - focused on Alexandria, but a well-built site with lots of advertising options, PR=4

9 - Townlink LLC sites - a network of town-specific sites, decent SEO exposure for advertisers, though sites are a bit underwhelming - PRs = 3

10 - - good local site with lots of advertising options, PR=4

11 - - nice directory focused on this particular area including Oakton, PR=2

12 - - partitioned into many community-specific areas around Fairfax, though the site could use some work, and much more advertising could be made available - Fairfax Connection PR=5


Friday, March 28, 2008

Top 2 SEO and Web 2.0 questions from Loudoun small businesses

At a recent Home-based Business Council (HBBC, part of the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce) luncheon, focusing on Internet Marketing and SEO, the questions from small business owners to the forum panelists boiled down to two types:

1 - "I'm doing everything I can, but I'm not getting much additional business from online marketing" - and

2 - "What exactly should I do for my website to get the most visibility?"

These are absolutely the core questions of our industry, and two very different questions without "canned" answers. In terms of question 2, regarding what specifically should be done, the answer comes out of a method, context and investment planning.

a) SEO/SEM standard methods and practices, as best as are available, should be followed to make sure all avenues are covered and all fundamental improvmenets are executed. There's no substitute for this. If you don't know these methods, start researching online, or contact an SEO industry expert. These methods are followed by businesses large and small, around the world, but do tend to evolve quickly (though are based on fundamental business imperatives). So it's important that you or your SEO consultant constantly stay abreast of the fast-changing industry, making sure to keep up. Click-based marketing is a hugely competitive industry, and can change as fast as you can click!

b) The context at this particular luncheon was primarily Loudoun local and regional businesses. Therefore the marketing and advertising options, directories and search engines to use, online/offline coordination all need to take advantage of specifically what Loudoun and Northern Virginia has to offer in terms of Loudoun online advertising venues. Only the most active local online marketing agencies such as KME Internet Marketing will really have the best answers, along with other successful businesses in the area (that can be contacted through organizations like the Chamber).

c) Investment planning for your business in terms of budget spent on advertising is obviously important - and also best managed by consulting an online marketing expert. It's far too easy to waste money on online advertising, all the options available, and before you see it coming your budget will be used up. Click around the web, and you'll find that there exist many, many great ways to maximize your advertising dollar and spend very little in terms of money (vs. time), leveraging your digital assets, by using all the free and "organic" internet marketing methods available. Online advertising doesn't have to cost a lot for large impact, especially in the local markets. Just be sure to track performance of your advertising investment, i.e. the reach, impressions, click-throughs, traffic and other metrics.

In terms of question 1, after doing all this work and spending upfront or recurring money on Internet Marketing, one would expect more business. Obviously, according to the questioners, this isn't necessarily happening. The second part of the "sale", just like any other industry, is to "convert" your traffic - i.e. turn your visitors into buyers. This is a distinctly focused area of expertise related to Internet Marketing that deals directly with the design, usability and effectiveness of your store, your websites and the holistic online and offline reputation of your business (personal, social and business reputation). "Reputation" is essentially what others think and express about you, online - this phenomenon of local direct user input through Internet tools regarding popularity, reputation and feedback falls under the term "Web 2.0" (Northern Virginia). Again, method, context and investment are the key areas of concern, and should be addressed by Loudoun web design professionals - though there are always very simple, common mistakes that should be avoided.

Please contact us to further discuss, in much more detail, these topics - we realize all the answers aren't here, but can be found through good conversation and targeted, custom business planning.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Online Marketing and Presence for Local Newspapers is Essential

Here's an article detailing the demise of a local newspaper, brought on mainly by the economic realities of too few advertisers and content for too many papers, along with an 800-lb. gorilla entering and dominating the online content wars. What's important to note, is how coordinated, managed online marketing and search engine optimization is so important to a Loudoun County business (or any other local business) that attracts users and customers over the web - those local businesses that get it, can reasonably expect to able to protect their turf. Those that don't, lose fast. It's also very important to pay attention to how your online advertising dollars are being spent; closely scrutinize the metrics reported by the Publisher with respect to impressions and click-throughs, along with the overall online presence of the publisher itself.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

How to use your other domain names for Northern Virginia Internet Marketing?

Regarding a client question about the other domains you may own, that are like your current one....typically this is mostly a defensive move, to make sure your competition doesn't get those domains; if you were to actually replicate your site to those domains, you'd get significant penalties from the search engines for duplicate content.

However, if you want to make the most of them (from an online search marketing perspective, as we do for several clients in Virginia), you could spend some time/money and actually create a few pages for each of these domains, as new websites that all point back to your central one....the key is to modify the page structure and content enough between them, that they're not flagged as duplicate content...they become genuine "landing pages" with some unique online advertising content appropriate to their title. Stick mostly with longer-tailed keyword phrases that might not be as useful, helpful or relevant on the core site.

We would say that these new sites could be pretty simple, with just a picture or two and good text - and with a clear instruction/invitation/enticement to either "act now" or "link through" to your primary site (being sure to focus all your SEO energies and best content on the core site). One or two extra pages to encourage the spiders to recognize them as a "site" vs. "sales page" are helpful, as well. If you don't want to do this, at least you could set up a "redirect" from these domains, so that if somebody actually typed the domain in, they would get redirected to your site.